Josh Harrison’s tweaked ankle a cautionary reminder
During Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Bradenton, Josh Harrison left the game much earlier than he or anyone would have liked, exiting the game in the first inning after being doubled up on a fly ball. While it was encouraging to see him leave under his own power, we are still awaiting official word on the severity of the injury as of this writing.
Many different outlets have correctly identified Harrison as one of the key cogs in a Pittsburgh Pirates offense that is ready to breakout. As a refresher, Harrison led the Pirates with a .315 batting average, good enough for second overall in the National League. He also rounded into a capable leadoff-hitter, getting on base at a .347 clip and swiping 22 stolen bases. All while enjoying a scant 15.6% K-rate. All of these statistics easily illustrate just how important Jhay is to this offensive machine.
And those same statistics make it a scary proposition should Josh Harrison, or any other key Pirate for that matter, miss significant time.
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Looking back at the dog days of Summer 2014, when both Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker were out with injury, the Pirates very nearly found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. The memories of those injury-depleted lineups, coupled with today’s injury to Harrison, should give Pirates fans great pause. While national accolades, placement of players in top 10 lists, and very-optimistic projections can excite even the most stoic Bucs fans, it can all be taken away in an instant. Clint Hurdle, his staff, and the Pirates organization have done a great job of working around injuries in recent history, but the absolute best thing that the organization has done to guard against drop offs due to injury is improve the depth of the club with Corey Hart, Sean Rodriguez, and Jeong-ho Kang, among others. Returning to the glass-half-empty approach, however, an extended absence by Harrison could cause many problems for the Pirates lineup, as it would cause a lot of undesired shuffling, and possibly putting hitters such as Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco in less-than-desirable spots.
It will remain to be seen what will come of Josh Harrison’s injury, but one thing is certain: the 2015 Pirates are loaded with contingencies.
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